Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Voyage Shop Now Shop now
Customer Review

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alexander McCall Smith on the poet who inspires him, 22 Sept. 2013
This review is from: What W. H. Auden Can Do for You (Writers on Writers) (Hardcover)
Alexander McCall Smith has long been fascinated by the poetry - and life - of W H Auden. One of his main characters, Isabel Dalhousie, is a devotee of the poet, while another, Mma Ramotswe, also shares his views on life. As McCall Smith explains, he has "learned so much from this poet. I have bathed in the richness of his language. I have wept over some of his lines. He can be with us in every part of our lives, showing us how rich life can be, and how precious". In this short book, McCall Smith talks about Auden's life and also explains the themes in his poetry which resonates with him.

Prior to reading this book I didn't know much about Auden, other than the fact that he was an English poet and that he was homosexual. In his 20s he travelled widely, living for a time in Berlin and also in Spain (where he had intended to drive an ambulance in the Civil War). At this time, he was close friends with Christopher Isherwood. In 1939 he moved to the US where he lived the majority of his life until his death in 1973.

Many of the themes in Auden's poetry reflect his sexuality, his interest in psychology and politics and his religious beliefs. McCall Smith talks about all of these things as well as picking up on common techniques that Auden used (for example inverting sentences for greater impact, the use of archaic words and personalising inanimate objects). McCall Smith has a conversational writing style which makes this book feel very personal, as if you're sitting down for a chat with him. One of the things that I like about his novels is the way that he seems to think a lot about how to live a better life and that also comes through in this book. I was particularly touched by the way that he talks about spiritual purpose and that religion can be an illogical but moral choice, making a determined commitment to pursue good.

Despite my comparative lack of interest in Auden going in, I enjoyed this book. And I now understand that the cover illustration is a reference to the poem "Musee des Beaux-Arts", where "the dogs go on with their doggy life" while Icarus falls unnoticed into the water behind them.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Mar 2014 12:28:34 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Will someone please tell me what an ARC is - please - I keep reading it and I don't know - it's driving me crazy!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2014 22:06:44 GMT
Julia Flyte says:
Advance Reading Copy. It's what publishers give out to be reviewed before books are published. The book hasn't had its final proofreading done and may have other errors that will be picked up before it goes to print. Often doesn't have the final cover design and other layout elements worked out.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›